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Exclusive interview with Jarno Trulli 11 May 2007

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 10 May 2007

A decade into his Formula One career, Toyota’s Jarno Trulli still believes his time for greatness will come - perhaps not this season, though. His current aim is to beat the likes of Renault, Williams and Red Bull and become ‘best of the rest’ behind McLaren, Ferrari and BMW Sauber…

Q: It has been said that you are like a fine wine, waiting to mature into a great wine. Given you’ve been in Formula One racing for over 10 years, do you feel that you are getting closer to the results many of your fans say you deserve?
Jarno Trulli:
Honestly, yes. The older and more experienced I am, the quicker I get. But it is of course not just up to the driver, you need the whole package to be quick and competitive in F1. In the last three years I have exploited what I have learned in the past ten years and made the best out of the material given.

Q: Three races into the season and you have four points - a realistic yield given the performance of the car?
Yes, the five points that we have (four for me and only one for Ralf) is the best that we could have got from the package. Especially when you look at the winter testing results, nobody expected us to be in the points, so we’ve shown that we are improving and growing in experience.

Q: Reliability and speed have been the issues so far this season. The long break between the last race and Barcelona must have given the team a chance to sort out a lot of the problems. Do you feel confident of better results in the coming races?
Reliability has never been a real issue. We have finished three times with both cars. Speed is a problem, yes. We need to be more competitive in this respect. The aerodynamics team is working very hard, as improving this side can give you a very big step in a short time forward.

Q: The four days spent testing in Barcelona last week showed the TF107 to be a midfield car - is that where the team stands at the moment?
More or less, yes. We are fighting for the leadership in the second group (Renault, Toyota, Red Bull and Williams), but we want to close the gap to the top teams.

Q: Now that the Formula One circus is back in Europe, do you think the pressure on the team will glean more positive results?
Yes, definitely. Now that we are back in Europe, we have more facilities at hand - to work harder and also better. So we are more focused now.

Q: In all three qualifying sessions so far you made it into the top ten and were able to hold or improve your position by the chequered flag. Is the next logical step a podium finish?
In F1 anything can happen. You can start last, but end up on the podium. What I have learned in 10 years of F1 is that you need to be ready to get the best out of yourself. It does not matter whether it is your lucky day or not. You have to trust that you can make it and believe in yourself. I have had some lucky days, some normal and of course some bad days, and not before the chequered flag goes down do you know where you are.

Q: In qualifying, the gap to the top teams has averaged around half a second, while in the race the gap widens. Why do you think this is? Is it a lack of speed, the wrong strategy or something else?
In general I think that our car performs better in qualifying than in the race. We have also seen that last year we got the most out of the car when we were running with new tyres and on low fuel. But during the race, we cannot keep up the pace. The more we improve the car, the bigger the step forward will be on the race days, while in qualifying we can keep the results as of now.

Q: Will Toyota introduce a B-version of the TF107? And if so, what changes will have been made?
There will not be B-version. We would much rather concentrate on the steady development of our present TF107.

Q: With all its resources and manpower it is hard do understand why Toyota is not doing better. Why do you think the team have struggled?
I have a clear opinion of F1. F1 is a very difficult job. Take for example Ferrari: it took them over 20 years to win. So we can see that established and very experienced teams have their difficulties. Toyota is quite new. Sure everybody expects a lot, and of course we also expect a lot. But in this paddock, everybody wants to win, so you have to work hard, and in our situation probably harder than our competitors. And sometimes you need to wait until the right moment comes, and have to be patient - and there is no doubt that Toyota has this patience. For Toyota it would be very disappointing to be outside of the top 10, but now we are among the top six or seven - and that is acceptable given our ‘age’.

Q: Recently a change in team management has been announced. How do you feel about the changes and do you think they will have an effect on the team’s performance?
This came as no surprise, as Mr Tomita was expected to leave the team and retire. At the moment nothing measurable has happened, except that this great person has left the team. He gave a lot of input to the F1 project.